back to top

In Spite of Challenges Taubman Museum Director Sees Brighter Future

David Micklenberg’s career in the museum field began when he was seven years old. “My mother hooked me up with a photographer professor in the Brooklyn Museum, and I mixed chemicals for him and volunteered my time. I think she wanted me out of the house.  That was a good thing.”

From there, he went on to college and a Master’s Degree in art history at the University of Wisconsin, then served as director of various art museums and institutions before coming to his current position as executive director of the Taubman Art Museum.  Despite the current financial challenges confronting the museum, Micklenberg is optimistic about the facility’s future—though the challenges must be surmounted.  The key to the latter, in his view, are financial and community-based.

“I think the financial situation for the museum is that there is a lot of difficulty [understanding]about where money’s coming from and how much money has been there in the past – and what’s going to be there in the future. There are also a lot of challenges in terms of expanding the donor base to be much broader-based in the community.”

Micklenberg, who went public with his plan last week, said that, “the future of the museum rests in collaborative programmatic partnerships that produce enough income for the museum for budget relief as well as programmatic excellence, and those are the kinds of relationships that we’re looking for in the future.”

Toward that end, Micklenberg hopes the museum will continue its longstanding partnership with Virginia Tech as well as continue its affiliations with Virginia Western Community College, Roanoke College, Hollins University, and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Additionally, the Taubman Museum has recently spent time sounding out the community to find out what it’s like to have such a facility in Roanoke and what is required to have a truly first-rate museum here—with the result being, in Micklenberg’s words, “that the museum is not only a museum – it’s also an art center. That means the collections and exhibitions in the museum will remain preeminent.

In addition, Micklenberg envisions “a very aggressive program in lectures, concerts, films, symposia, conversations, dialogues … online resources, and a lot of communication and opportunities with the community to participate and to access our artists and ideas.”

Micklenberg continues that this means the museum will have “deep-rooted connections” with higher and K-12 education in both the public and private sectors.

It’s not only about art but people as well: “It’s about being able to communicate with people, being able to understand what people want and their hopes and dreams and aspirations [for] the museum. It’s something that I’ve been able to do at other institutions.”

There are varying opinions about the Taubman two years after the $66 million dollar facility opened, but Micklenberg, who succeeded Georganne Bingham a year ago, believes that, “by and large, I think everybody cares that the museum stays afloat and everybody cares that the museum remains a critical cultural component of Roanoke.  So I think that the experiences that I’ve had at other institutions helped me define how that happens here.”

(See related article on last week’s Town Hall meeting.)

Latest Articles

- Advertisement -Fox Radio CBS Sports Radio Advertisement

Latest Articles

- Advertisement -Fox Radio CBS Sports Radio Advertisement

Related Articles